Behind the scenes at the 7 Graces Project, CIC, we’ve been busy. Founder Lynn Serafinn and I have been developing courses in ethical marketing, which we will FINALLY be launching to the public later in 2014. First, we designed the course we called ‘Foundations of Ethical Marketing’ and delivered that to a pilot group of about 15 people. After that ended, we did a vigorous review of it, and will be rewritten it before we launch it this autumn.
We also created a course called ‘Applications of Ethical Marketing’. This is our certification programme and, as the title would infer, it is much less theoretical and much more ‘hands on’ than the ‘Foundations’ course. This we piloted with a smaller group of Foundations graduates – only 5 people. That test run is now coming to a close.
So, after seven intense months, the teaching is done, and now all that remains is the final presentations and a big movie launch (more on that later). It has been an exciting, sometimes frustrating, often overwhelming experience for our participants, not to mention for Lynn and me. What I’d like to do in this article is share with you some of the common themes we have seen during this 28-week journey and hopefully offer you some pointers that you can apply to your business.
It All Starts With the Grace of Connection
The very first thing our participants had to do, even before looking at their businesses and their marketing, was look at their connection with their Self. They had to ask themselves:
- Who am I?
- What am I passionate about?
- What am I being called to do at this moment in time, in support of whom or what?
- What are my values?
One thing I noticed is that, although people were often pretty good at answering these questions, it was sometimes a challenge to actually ‘step into’ this vision of themselves – to actually claim it and live it. It can be reasonably easy to see who you are becoming and yearn for it with all your heart and yet still resist becoming that person; it can be hard and it can be scary to step into yourself, because it means you can no longer hide your most powerful, passionate self from the world – it demands that you stick your head above the parapet and become visible.
However, the clearer you get about who you are becoming and what you’re being called to do, the harder it becomes to resist – that new version of yourself starts to assert herself. You find her speaking for you while the old version of you is off guard.
The truth is, while we might be afraid of the impact that a new, more powerful, more whole version of ourselves might have in the world, even our scared, small, protected versions of ourselves are having an impact…an impact that makes people uncertain about what we believe, that makes them not notice us or even ignore us, that allows them to walk all over us or our most closely cherished values. If we’re uncertain, we create uncertainty in others, but if we are certain, then we create clarity.
The good news is that this new, empowered version of us has a power. If we also give her a clear message to share, one that is 100% in alignment with our values, passion and purpose, then we can communicate that message clearly to the rest of the world (our audience) – and that has an impact. It also means we’re less likely to want to hide – because we know what we have to say and we know the impact we want to have.
Once you have identified your values, passion and purpose, you are in a much better position to look at your connection with your business. Questions our participants asked themselves were:
- What is my business currently?
- How authentic a reflection is it of who I am, of my values, my passion, my purpose?
- How excited do I feel about my current business?
- Is there something else that better serves me, my purpose or message and my audience?
And do you know something? Not one of our participants has sailed through the course without at least questioning whether their business is right for them and at least considering something completely different. Now, seven months on, some are emerging with much the same business as they started with but with much more commitment and focus, while others are emerging with something brand spanking new that they had never considered before.
In fact, I just spoke to one of our participants who has, at this late stage, realised she has been focussing on the wrong business and has returned to an earlier business idea. What is interesting is that, in bringing her assignments up to date to accommodate this change, it took her just 15 minutes to work through six of the seven cycles of the course – something that had taken seven months for her previous business idea.
The point is this:
When you find the right business that reflects who you are right now, then it flows and it’s easy!
From that place, you can communicate clearly what you want, what you do and how. And you can do so with a passion and clarity that inspires and invites your audience to want to be a part of it.
TIP: Many of us have an accumulation of business ideas that have come to us over the years. Some we have started and never seen through; others haven’t even made it out of our heads and onto a scrap of paper for safekeeping; others we plug away at with varying degrees of success. In fact, each of those ideas will be some kind of reflection of you, your values, passions and purpose. There is huge value in gathering them all and seeing how they slot together. It could be that they are all facets of one truly unique business that fully reflects who you are and what you are called to do.
One of the challenges that many of the participants found was in getting (and then staying) focussed. This was something that came up again and again. They would find it easy to come up with a big vision that was too broad, too intangible, too ‘up in the clouds’, and then the challenge was in bringing it down to earth and turning it into something concrete, manageable and deliverable.
While it’s great to have a big vision, you have to start with something you can manage – something small enough to master before expanding out to the next level. Your business needs to have strong foundations, and in order to achieve this, you need to start small, with one or two products that you can master and get stable before adding the next layer and the one after that.
Looking at the marketing funnel below, we asked our participants to plan entry-level, mid-level and top-level products for their businesses:
What we found was that the key to keeping the vision of these products manageable was in ensuring that there was a clear path for the customer to take from one to the next. Each level was a development of the same model, the same product. For example, the book The 7 Graces of Marketing is one of the 7 Graces Project’s entry-level products. It lays out a new model of ethical marketing; it’s very theoretical. The mid-level product is the Foundations of Ethical Marketing course, which expands the model at a much more practical level, demonstrating what the 7 Graces look like in practice. Then, finally, the top-level product is this Applications of Ethical Marketing course. It takes the 7 Graces and asks participants to apply them to their businesses. The customer’s path is clear: read the book to get the theory, do Foundations to deepen your understanding and see how it works in the real world, then do Applications to apply it to your business and become a 7-Graces-certified business. It’s concrete, and there’s a clear progression from beginning to end.
When you are building a business, there’s a danger that lies in the seductiveness of new ideas. New ideas are always more exciting than the old ones you’ve been working on for a time (especially if you are a natural creative type), and that can also lead to difficulties with focus, with sticking to one idea and seeing it through to the end. A useful question to ask yourself if you know you have this magpie tendency of hoarding shiny new ideas is:
Is this new idea (of mine or that someone else is presenting to me) an opportunity or a distraction?
Is it an opportunity to develop my business in alignment with my vision and purpose that is appropriate for me to pursue at this moment in time?
Is it exciting because it’s new but is going to distract me from finishing what I need to finish at this stage to build the strong foundations my business needs if it is to thrive in the future?
This is where clarity about your vision, passion and purpose come in handy. If know what your vision, your passion and your purpose are, then it’s very easy to see whether something is in alignment with them or not. Then it’s very easy to say ‘No’ or ‘Not now, it’s not the right time for me to get involved in something new.’
Keeping It Simple. Keeping It Moving.
Another regularly occurring theme, and the final one I’m going to examine here, is about keeping it simple. We noticed a big tendency amongst our participants to complicate things. Primarily, this showed up in the need to ‘get it right’. While we all want to do the best we can, this can often spill over into the kind of perfectionism that simply keeps us stuck and prevents us from moving forwards. Sometimes we need to know when to stop, when to accept that it’s not perfect but it is good enough. In fact, it can be useful to send a product out into the world before it is perfect, as this allows us to try it out, see what works and what doesn’t in the real world and then adjust it accordingly. If we send something out that we know is perfect, then we’re less likely to want to change it. And honestly, we can’t know if it’s perfect or not until we’ve tested it. Lynn and I are constantly adjusting our products as different clients present challenges we hadn’t considered that show us how we can improve the service.
What we have learned through this seven-month journey is that this course is more than an ethical-marketing course; it is a leadership course, too. I mean leadership in the sense of leading yourself, finding your purpose and message and championing it through your own business. Our participants have worked incredibly hard defining their businesses and developing and implementing their marketing plans, but they have also done a lot of reflective, introspective work, learning who they are and how they work, aligning with themselves and their personal missions and then finding ways of expressing them through their businesses and their marketing. This has required a lot of soul-searching and a lot of courage.
The five brave souls who embarked on this journey into the unknown with us are emerging, blinking, back into the world – surer of their purposes, clearer about who they serve and certain that their businesses are true reflections of who they are.
And, as if all the work we asked them to do on their individual businesses wasn’t enough, we also got them to work together on a collaborative project. The fruit of this collaborative labour is to be launched on 20th June – a short film called New Story of Marketing: The Movie (please support them in their goal for it go viral by signing up to be at the launch and sharing it with all your friends and family on launch day).
Finally, I would like to say thank you to all five of our participants: Paula Tarrant, Lisa Christie, Simon Pimenta, Callie Carling and Laura Galera Martinez. I have learned so much from you over these last seven months, and I’m grateful for your willingness to throw yourselves into the unknown, to trust and to explore deeply not just your businesses but your own selves and your own motivations, passions and visions. We have gone to exciting places, scary places, dark places and joyful, silly, giggly places. Thank you for coming along for the ride and sharing the journey with us – it’s been a joy and a privilege.
And if reading this has aroused your curiosity about the 7 Graces courses – Foundations in Ethical Marketing and Applications in Ethical Marketing – feel free to drop us a line via the contact form on this website, so we can keep you informed about their launch in autumn 2014.
3rd June 2014
Nancy V Goodyear is business mentor & life coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners get focused and organised. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French, having lived in France for some time, and is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. Nancy is also Co-Director of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a non-profit social enterprise that provides training and mentorship in ethical marketing to independent business owners, social entrepreneurs and change-making corporates. She works closely with 7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn to develop training and consultancy packages for business owners seeking to build and develop their marketing platform ethically. Her over-riding aim in all her work is to help others reconnect to who they and to their business. http://nancyvgoodyear.com
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)